Keep Teaching!

This page provides tips and resources for continuation of teaching when moving face-to-face courses to online during a prolonged NMSU campus closure. 

Click on the titles below to view the information in the sections.

Getting Started

  • Develop a plan for delivering your course online. Identify how you will provide course content, structure discussions or group work, collect assignments, and provide exams in the online environment. 
  • Establish student expectations. Determine your expectations for students for participation, communication, deadlines, and proctored exams. Keep in mind that some students may need more flexibility because of special circumstances such as limited computer or internet access, illness, or caring for family members.
  • Revise the schedule and syllabus. Update the syllabus and schedule for changes needed for course content, activities, assignments, and policies.  Explain how the online class will be structured, if students need to log on for synchronous sessions (and how), where they can find assignment information, and how they should submit assignments.
  • Set realistic goals for instruction. Decide on what your teaching priorities.  What course activities must happen? What activities could be changed?
  • Add content to your Canvas course. Provide the syllabus, contact information, link to student Canvas/technology support, learning content, activities, and assignments.  Ideally, the entire course should be set up before the semester begins so that you can focus on teaching during the semester.
  • Use Canvas assignment tool to incorporate the grade book.  Add assignments to the Canvas course using the Assignment tool. This will add assignments to the grade center for students to see what assignments are due with dates and points. 
  • Configure notifications. Set up your Canvas notifications for announcements, submissions, and comments so that you receive the notice in your NMSU inbox immediately. Ask students to also configure their notifications.
  • Communicate with students before the semester begins. Welcome students to class, provide syllabus, Canvas login instructions, how to contact you, office hours, and how to get started, and any other pertinent information before the semester begins.  Consider posting a Welcome in Canvas Announcements and sending a message via the Canvas Inbox
  • Poll your students on their technology access. Find out what resources your students will have for participating in the online class using a Canvas Survey. This could include internet connections, the device they will use to access the course, schedule/availability for synchronous classes, comfort with using Canvas (see Sample Surveys in Resources tab).

Course Delivery

As you begin delivering your course online, here are some tips and strategies:

  • Communicate frequently. Make sure students know when new material is posted, changes to the course, and updates on the situation. Use the Announcements tool and Inbox to remind students of assignment deadlines, provide other important information, or to offer a word of encouragement. In face-to-face classes the instructor reminds the students of upcoming events, assignments verbally and instinctively.  Plan this ahead of time for the online environment.
  • Log in regularly. Have regularly-scheduled times to be in the course. Stick to that schedule. Just as a face-to-face class has scheduled meeting times and faculty have office hours, scheduling time to be in the online classroom will help the instructor and the students keep up with online classroom instruction.
  • Be human.   Communicate with students honestly and openly. The best thing an instructor can do is admit they don’t know how to do something, and then get help. Work together as a team to make the learning experience positive and successful.
  • Record live classes. If you’re holding class meetings using a live web conferencing tool (e.g., Adobe Connect, Zoom), record the sessions so that students can watch them later. Having recorded classroom instructional videos provides access to course content for any time, anywhere access for students.
  • Record in small chunks. Consider providing shorter videos (10-15 minutes) based on topics rather than 45-90 minute lectures. If giving a live lecture in Zoom that you are recording, you can simply start/stop the recording at designated points to create multiple shorter videos for those who access the recorded videos at a later time.
  • Offer content in multiple formats. If students have limited internet access, they may not be able to watch videos due to bandwidth.  Consider providing materials in multiple formats. For example, offer both a video and a PowerPoint with a text transcript.
  • Give prompt and meaningful feedback. Since the students cannot see you, it is especially important to provide prompt and meaningful feedback on class assignments. Tell students how long it will take to grade assignments.
  • Share with the whole class. If one student has a question, other students may also have the same question. Consider sharing the question and answer with all students on an FAQ page, Muddiest point discussion board, or by using the Announcement tool.
  • Give credit for participation. Asynchronous learning allows learners to individually participate in activities and discussions over a period of time such as a week.  While this allows learners to fit their participation into their schedule, it usually requires a lot more effort from students to craft a written essay response. Consider providing some participation points for these activities.

Keep It Simple

Here are some tips and strategies for keeping your transition to online simple:

  • Make Canvas the primary learning environment – Make the Canvas learning management system the primary “classroom” as your course moves to an online format.  Use Canvas to post announcements, message students, link to learning materials, collect assignments, and provide assessments.
  • Use Modules to organize the students’ learning – Students will rely on the information posted in Canvas to direct their learning.  The Canvas Modules allows instructors to group course content into weekly or topic modules that give students one spot to find everything they will need to do.
  • Clarify assignment instructions – Clarify assignment instructions and grading criteria. In face-to-face courses, the instructor typically discusses course activities, goes over assignment instructions, and reminds students to read the next chapter. This can be missing in an online course. 
  • Allow more time for discussions and activities – Generally, discussions and activities are asynchronous in an online environment.  This can allow for much richer and deeper responses, but it takes more time. Consider allowing sufficient time (e.g., a week) for discussions and activities. 
  • Make synchronous meetings optional – Synchronous sessions require learners to meet at a specified time in a tool like Zoom or Adobe Connect. They can be a great way to enhance the social presence and provide “just in time” teaching in an online course, but some students may not be available to attend.  Students may have different schedules and may have additional issues such as kids at home, sick family members, or limited computer or internet access. If you opt to hold synchronous sessions, consider making them optional, allowing students to watch a recording later, or using them for office hours.  
  • Keep proctored exams to a minimum – Proctored exams cost money and require specific technology.  If possible, consider using alternative assessments to evaluate students rather than proctored exams.  If you do require proctored exams, let students know as soon as possible about the cost, tech requirements, and scheduling.
  • Limit the number of tools – Try to keep technology tools that are simple, free, and familiar to students. Use only the tools that support your learning objectives.


Discouraging Cheating on Exams without Proctoring 

  • Create a culture of academic integrity. Consider these ideas for creating a culture of integrity in an online course: post an honor code, remind students why learning the material will be important to their lives or future success or add a quiz question where students agree that they will work independently and not share quiz information with anyone else.
  • Avoid setting rules that you cannot enforce. You may not be able to stop students from using textbooks, notes, and other resources when learning online.  Consider asking questions that cannot be easily looked up in textbooks or on the web. Perhaps have students apply information to a specific situation or use information to support an opinion.  
  • Vary assessment questions. Set up exams to shuffle the order of the questions and answers, select questions from a larger question pool, or use formulas to customize math problems.
  • Delay releasing the correct answers. Configure the quiz to only post answers after the quiz has closed.
  • Set a timer. Limit the duration of the quiz so students could not look up all the answers within the time period. Avoid being too extreme on time limits as it can cause test anxiety.
  • Do not rely on multiple choice quizzes alone. Consider using alternative assessments to have students demonstrate their understanding of course material.

Suggestions for Alternative Assessments

In addition to proctored exams, there are many ways to assess student learning. Here are some ideas for alternative assessments:

  • Executive Summary– Synthesize and summarize reading material focused on essential information.  
  • Infographic or Poster– Create a graphic or poster demonstrating understanding or application of content being learned.
  • OpEd Essay– Write an opinion essay on a specific issue. 
  • Proposal or Grant Proposal–  Write a conference or grant proposal.
  • Live Oral Report– Record and share a two or three-minute reflection on content being learned.
  • Recorded Oral Report– Use Apps such as Voice Thread or Flipgrid to record a 3-5 minute presentation. 
  • Blogging– Create a blog site where students develop posts on content to be learned.
  • Open Book Exam– Use the learning management system’s Quiz Tool to create exams that assess students’ understanding of the material. To reduce academic dishonesty, randomize questions and answers and create enough questions that students will not all receive the same questions. 
  • Student-Created Exam– Students use their own knowledge and skills learned to create an assessment.
  • Portfolio– Create a portfolio of artifacts to demonstrate an understanding of specified content.
  • Webpage Development– Use open-source web page software ( Wix or Merlot for example) to create a site that shares what was learned.
  • Annotated Bibliography– have students cite research articles followed by a descriptive or evaluative paragraph.
  • Video Presentation – Have students record a video presenting on a topic. Videos could also be used for interviews, demonstrations, recording processes, or procedures.
  • Podcast – Using voice, share understanding through audio files. 

Resource Links for Other Assessment Suggestions

Exam Proctoring

Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor

Respondus Monitor and Lockdown Browser are two products that can help with proctoring online exams. Online means the exam is taken online in Canvas. The Lockdown Browser “locks” a browser so the test-taker can only have that browser open in the exam. The Respondus Monitor works in conjunction with Lockdown Browser and a webcam. It helps ensure exam integrity by recording the exam, monitoring the test-taker behaviors, and flagging an exam when suspect behaviors (eye movements, another person present, etc.) occur. 

It’s recommended that instructors Create a Practice Exam and students take a practice exam with Respondus Monitor to ensure their computer, webcam, and Internet are working properly. Allow students more than one attempt on the quiz so they can try the practice exam whenever their device or networking environment changes.

Please note, Respondus LockDown Browser is only compatible with Windows, OSX, and iOS. It doesn’t work with the Chrome browser and Android devices

There might also be issues with devices  (computers, laptops, tablets, etc.) that are too old to run Respondus LockDown Browser. 

Set up Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor for individual exams in Canvas.

Respondus Monitor resources
Rapid Rollout Guide for Instructors
Training Webinar Schedule
Customer Success email
Technical Support & Knowledge Base

Exam Proctoring Online with ProctorU 

Exam proctoring online is available with ProctorU for a fee, which students will be responsible for paying. Review the NMSU ProctorU information for more details.

For more information contact or call 575-639-4638.


  • Establish clear student-to-student communication guidelines. The online environment can allow for misconstrued meaning and aggressive communication. It is important to establish clear guidelines so all students feel welcomed and included.
  • Do not assume students’ identity. Use students’ names where possible or use gender-neutral language such as the singular “they” when referring to a student; opt for generic greetings instead of gender-specific greetings such as, “Hi guys!”
  • Proactively talk about resources available to students. Some students will not approach you for help. Frequently discussing information and resources will help students know what is available and show students you are here to help.
  • Be aware of the words, phrases, and examples you use. Look for ways to use diverse phrases and examples that help all feel included and increase learning. Avoid words and phrases that may be ostracizing or unknown to students. Visit How to create an inclusive online class for examples of inclusive language.
  • Be prepared to respond to racism and xenophobia. As Coronavirus spreads, so does racism and xenophobia, including on college campuses. Explore strategies on how to address these challenging classroom situations.
  • Recognize and acknowledge your own bias. We all have biases – bias just refers to how you see and relate to the world around you, and it’s a product of your experiences, culture, and values. Our biases affect how we interact with and what we assume about others. Spend some time reflecting on how to be more inclusive before writing content, announcements, emails, assignments, etc. For more on inclusivity, visit How to Create an Inclusive Online Classroom.   


Professional Development

Online Instructional Design and Teaching Workshops

The Online Course Improvement Program (OCIP) provides workshops on online instructional design and teaching online. Visit the OCIP events page to view upcoming workshops and register.

Canvas Workshops

Academic Technology provides workshops and resources on Canvas, Zoom, Adobe Connect, Turnitin, and other learning technologies. Visit the Upcoming Workshops page to view upcoming workshops and register or Recorded Workshops to watch previously recorded sessions.

Teaching Academy Workshops

The Teaching Academy serves NMSU educators through training, mentoring, and networking. Visit the Teaching Academy’s Events page to view upcoming events.

External Professional Development

Online Teaching Tips

Welcoming Your Students

Get your online course off to a great start with a welcoming “Welcome Letter”. A Welcome Letter creates instructor presence and lets students “hear” your voice. Email the Welcome Letter a week or so before the course start date and post in the course as well. Provide important and useful information like your contact information,…
Continue reading “Welcoming Your Students” »

Will This Work

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Project-Based Learning in the Online Classroom

As you prepare your online course for the next semester, you might want to consider implementing project-based learning (PBL). Many conventional classrooms have long operated on a project-based model, where instead of reading chapters, answering questions, and taking tests, students work on subject-specific educational projects such as building a greenhouse, designing a website, or debating…
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Building community in an online course

In addition to creating your instructor presence in an online course, also consider designing a sense of community. If Implemented early in the semester, a strong sense of community leads to improved retention and student success. Three ways to get started might be to: Begin by modeling the behavior you expect students to exhibit.  This…
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Include a Netiquette Statement

Adding a netiquette statement to your online course helps set communication standards between learners.  Instructors place responsibility on the learner to be aware of respectful interaction and communication that fosters learning and a sense of community.  The netiquette statement can be added as part of the syllabus but it can also be placed in other…
Continue reading “Include a Netiquette Statement” »

New! Teaching Online Mini-Video Series

For May 2020, come back each week to watch new mini-videos with important considerations for teaching online.

Watch Now

Getting Help

Online Course Improvement Program
For course design and delivery
(575) 646-1572

Academic Technology
For Canvas and learning technologies
(575) 646-5125

Distance Education/NMSU Online
For proctoring and distance education
(575) 646-8231 or (575) 646-5632
(888) 729-6678

Teaching Academy
For instructional practices
(575) 646-2204

Instructional Media Services
For Hybrid Classroom assistance
(575) 646-3700

More Info


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